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State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2020

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The year 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record for Mexico/Central America and the Caribbean, and the second warmest year for South America. Temperatures were 1.0 °C, 0.8 °C and 0.6 °C above the 1981–2010 average, respectively.

In the Chilean and Argentine Andes, glaciers have been retreating during the last decades. Ice mass loss has accelerated since 2010, in line with an increase in seasonal and annual temperatures and a significant reduction in annual precipitation in the region.

The intense drought in southern Amazonia and the Pantanal was the worst in the past 60 years, and 2020 surpassed 2019 to become the most active fire year in the southern Amazon.

Widespread drought across the Latin America and the Caribbean region has had significant impact on inland shipping routes, crop yields and food production, leading to worsening food insecurity in many areas. Precipitation deficits are particularly adverse in the Caribbean region, which presents high vulnerability to drought and has several of its territories on the global list of the most water-stressed countries, with less than 1 000 m3 freshwater resources per capita.

Hurricanes Eta and Iota reached category 4 intensity and made landfall in the same region in quick succession; they followed identical paths across Nicaragua and Honduras, affecting the same areas and exacerbating related impacts.

Marine life, coastal ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them, particularly in Small Island Developing States, are facing increasing threats from ocean acidification, sea-level rise, warming oceans, and more intense and frequent tropical storms.

Adaptation measures, par ticularly multi-hazard early warning systems, are underdeveloped in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Support from governments and the science and technology community is critical to strengthening their development, as well as to improving data collection and storage and firmly integrating disaster risk information into development planning. Strong financial support is fundamental to achieving this outcome.